I still want him.
Hell, I want him more than I did before. I glance at the clock on my nightstand. I don’t have to be at the ballpark for another couple hours. “You hungry? Want to get some food?”
“But I didn’t stop letting you win, Sloan,” he says as he moves up the bed and flops next to me.
“True. But lunch is on me anyway.” I want to pay for him. It feels right.
“Then I’m really hungry,” he says and drops a smug kiss to my lips. “By the way, like my payback?”
More than you can know. “It’s not so bad.”
He smacks my shoulder. “Let’s order. I’m starved.”
I wish he’d lean into the payback comment. Maybe say Let me try harder when we do it again. But maybe I’ll have to be the one to say it.
As I get dressed, I’m trying to solve the new problem of Luke and how to land a next time.
NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T
The spicy Korean takeout is top-notch. So’s the conversation as we debate the best spots in New York for takeout, and as we grade the spice level of the food. The company’s not too shabby either as we shift gears and flick on Anti-Heroes, a Webflix show about a ragtag crew of misfits who develop superpowers in a post-apocalyptic world. They try to use them for good mostly, but they’re sometimes tempted to use them for harm.
We’re dressed and parked on my couch. We’ve done this before. Watched TV together. Eaten together. Never hung out post BJs, but hey, we’re aces at it. So maybe we can be friends with benefits together.
When the episode ends on a cliffhanger, Luke lets out a long, drawn out, “Nooooo.”
“Gotta wait till the next one,” I say.
He grabs his head. “I hate waiting. I’ve done enough waiting.”
“But you’re a pro at it. You can last till…when does the next episode come out? Thursday?” What even is today? Sunday? Yeah, it’s Sunday.
“Thursday is a year away,” he says.
I pat his thigh. “Life’s rough, Remy.”
He drops his hand from his face and shoots me the side-eye. “Remy?”
Um, did I just come up with a new nickname for him? Shit. I did. That’s bad. That’s a hookup faux pas.
I scratch my jaw, all casual and cool, to cover up my rookie mistake. “All those syllables in your last name. Too annoying to say sometimes.”
“My long last name suits me,” he says.
I breathe a little easier. His return to cocky slings is maybe another sign all is well.
And that we can do…this.
This being…another time?
My pulse races as I gear up to ask him if he wants to do this again. I’ve got a game this evening, and tomorrow too, so maybe tomorrow night after my game. No big deal, right? We’re friends, we’re out dudes, we know how hookups work.
Besides, what trouble can we really get into? I’m barely around. After the All-Star break and Jason’s wedding, I have a long string of away games, and he’ll leave for training camp.
Then, boom. We’ll both be super busy.
But when the credits roll, Luke stretches, then he tips his forehead to the door. “I should go. You need to make sure Sedgwick doesn’t pull a rabbit out of a hat on you,” he says.
My mind is on tomorrow night, so it takes me several seconds to put it together. Right. Elsie’s advice. I can barely remember anything that happened when I was vibrating with lust for Luke in the lobby.
But it’s coming back to me now. I’m facing a tough opponent tonight, and Sedgwick has had my number before. I ought to focus on getting into the zone.
“Watch the ball, not his leg kick,” Luke continues, reminding me of Elsie’s tip.
“Right. Sure,” I say, but I’m not thinking of tonight’s game. I’m thinking of what I want to do to him tomorrow.
One time did not quench my thirst. Luke’s living rent-free in my head right now, and if I’m ever going to have the kind of relationship I want with a guy, I need to get my friend off my mind.
The only way past this lust is through it.
I walk him to the door, feeling awkward for the first time today.
Feeling unsure. Needing to say something. But what? Let’s hook up again just so we can be sure this is out of our systems?
Well, yeah. That’d be a start.
I’m working through how to say it when Luke jams his hands in his pockets. “Listen, Sloan,” he begins.
And…shit. Any sentence that starts with a heavy listen isn’t going to end the way you want.
He’s in it for one and done. And I don’t want to get dumped or duped again. The scars can still hurt. “This doesn’t change anything,” I say quickly, getting ahead of the situation, like it’s a pitch I’m pouncing on.